It’s something I never planned on. I expected to be glowing as the miracle of life unfolded within me. But as a first-time mom, I was thrown a curveball when I became pregnant with triplets. At 22-weeks gestation, my life was turned upside down. That fateful day, I became a preemie parent. It’s a journey I thought would end the moment we graduated from the NICU, but I was wrong.

It takes a village to raise a preemie; thank you for being part of mine.

The room felt as if it was spinning, my mind cloudy as doctors, nurses and neonatologists rushed to my bedside. Three perfect babies arrived more than four months premature, born on edge of viability. Within hours, our first child passed away, yet you did everything you could to save her. Our two remaining babies were whisked off to the neonatal intensive care unit. To the medical team who saved my children on the scariest day of our lives, thank you for being part of our village.

As we adjusted to life in the NICU, we quickly learned that preemies often take one step forward, then two steps back. We measured life in minutes and hours, praying that our preemies would make it another day, then week, then month. You helped us stay positive, giving us a glimmer of hope as you snapped pictures of our babies when we couldn’t physically be by their bedside. To the nurses who cared for our babies like one of your own, thank you for being part of our village. 

The preemie journey can be isolating and it can be hard to understand unless you’ve had a preemie yourself. The days grew into weeks and I found myself getting into a routine. As I spent every waking hour in the NICU, other parents became familiar faces. Little did I know that our daily conversations would hold strong years down the road. To the fellow preemie parents who are now my life-long friends, thank you for being part of my village.

You never plan on spending months in the hospital watching your child fight for his or her life. But your mind quickly goes on cruise control as you drive the same route day in and day out to the hospital. In the four months we spent calling the NICU home, a team of friends, family and even strangers helped us in more ways than we could ever have imagined. People stopped by with freezer meals, checked on our dog, and sent us gift cards to pick up dinner. Hundreds of people donated money to our family, helping us with medical bills and the mounting costs of funerals for two of our triplets. To those of you who helped us get through the difficult NICU roller coaster, thank you for being part of our village.

Our surviving triplet came home from the hospital weighing five pounts, at four months old. Most people assume the preemie days are quickly behind you, but in reality, it will always be part of our lives. From a team of doctors and specialists, to therapists who helped her catch up to her peers, we have a set of eyes always watching over our family. A quick call to our pediatrician and we know our daughter will become priority number one. A hospital stay turns into the social hour, with several familiar faces checking in on our miracle preemie.

Prematurity doesn’t end in the NICU, it follows you home and becomes part of your DNA. When your child outgrows one preemie problem, you start worrying about the next hurdle, an endless cycle for preemie parents. But through the fear of the unknown comes hope and strength. And as the years pass by, your village continues to grow. As I watch our lives unfold, I’m filled with so much love and warmth. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our village. Thank you for being our personal cheerleaders, helping us every step of the way.

Stacey Skrysak

Stacey Skrysak is a local television news anchor in Illinois, but her proudest role is becoming a mom after years of infertility. Stacey is mother to a 22-weeker surviving triplet and two angels. Even though two of her children were only alive for a short time, her triplets have touched thousands of people around the world. Through her blog, Stacey has become a voice for infertility, premature birth and child loss. These days, she sprinkles in the trials and tribulations of raising a daughter, who was once nicknamed “The Diva of the Nicu.”